South Dakota governor names tribal relations secretary

Pierre, South Dakota (AP) February 2011

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard has appointed a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux to fill the newly created cabinet-level post of state tribal relations secretary.

Leroy “J.R.” LaPlante, a practicing attorney in Vermillion, serves as the chief judge and court administrator for the Crow Creek Sioux tribe in Ft. Thompson. He previously was the administrative officer for the Cheyenne River Sioux, and he has an extensive background working for American Indian human service organizations.

“J.R. is well-respected across the state, and he will help me to work with our tribes toward a better future for all South Dakotans,” Daugaard said in a statement last week.

South Dakota used to have an Office of Tribal Government Relations within the former Department of Tourism and State Development. Daugaard decided to reorganize some state agencies when he took office this year and as a part of that created the Department of Tribal Relations.

“This new department is a unique opportunity to bring together leaders from all of South Dakota’s governments and build stronger tribal-state relationships,” LaPlante said.

LaPlante was born at Eagle Butte. His Lakota name is Tasunke Waste, which is pronounced tah-SHOON’-kay WASH’-tay and translated means His Horse is Beautiful.